Motoring

THE EFTM GARAGE: Renault Kangoo Review – A pleasant surprise

Make: Renault
Model: Kangoo
Variant: Maxi
Engine / Transmission: 1.5 litre diesel  – 6 Speed automatic 
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 5.4L/100km combined 
Price: From $32,990 on road

First Impressions:

It’s rare to get a commercial vehicle in the EFTM Garage, but I always love it when we do. Commercial vehicles are a really important part of the market; often big sellers, covering vast kilometres and usually long lived. There is no excuse for safety features to be excluded from commercial vehicles, in my opinion. Likewise, comfort should rate highly given that commercial drivers spend far more time in their cars than most. With this in mind, the Renault Kangoo is a pleasant surprise most of the time, but grates occasionally. 

Tech Inside: 

The Kangoo consists of a three vehicle range: the cheap and cheerful ‘Compact’, best sampled as a $25990 manual (the automatic adds $3k!), the automatic and diesel only Maxi (as tested) and the fascinating, albeit expensive, all electric Kangoo Z.E. ($54561). 

Being the most affordable path to Kangoo ownership, the tech inside the Compact is limited to Bluetooth handsfree and a USB port for your phone. Spend more and you may well gain diesel or electric propulsion, but things stay pretty much the same on the tech front. Let’s call it adequate, but basic.

At least sat nav and Android Auto is available as an option pack. 

Most Impressive:

I love French cars. There, I’ve said it! In fact, apart from an aversion to fighting foes from the east, I like most things about France: wine, food, fashion, Alain Prost. I’ve had a stack of French cars, including a Peugeot 205 GTi, a 505, a 307 and a few of Citroens. In their own unique way, each and every one of them, great cars.

In my experience, I find that if you quiz most detractors and Francophobes you will get to the root of the problem – they’ve never been anywhere near a French car. Invariably, French cars ride beautifully, have terrific seats and are quirky enough to keep things interesting. I’m happy to report that the Kangoo is no exception. 

The seats, likely to be sat in for long, hard hours put many, many much more expensive cars to shame. Likewise, the ride quality. Apart from too much noise bouncing around the panel van body, the Kangoo rides like it has no right to.

Wheels pushed way out to the extremities help handling too. It’s a blast. With a couple of mountain bikes tucked away in the back and a camping mattress, the Kangoo makes a very good case for itself to be considered as an alternative to a small hatch for a sporty, outdoorsy couple. 

Not So Impressive:

Simply put, the lack of curtain airbags is unacceptable. Of course, the lack of safety features in the Kangoo is in keeping with most commercial vehicles and, in some respects, the Kangoo is better than most.

For example, every Kangoo comes with dual front and side airbags, as well as ABS, brake assist and stability control. Still, why should commercial drivers have to settle for sub-standard features, especially when the commercial fleet travels more kilometers than most?

Like Volkswagen’s Amarok (which does at least have curtain airbags for the front occupants), the lack of this life saving feature makes it a deal breaker for me in 2020. This is unfortunate, because other than this, the Kangoo is a fun alternative to a whole range of other options. 

WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE: 

Check out your local camping supply shop. With just a few key items, a sense of adventure and memories of a HQ Sandman, the Kangoo could make an awesome, low budget camper rig.

THE EFTM GARAGE: Renault Kangoo Review – A pleasant surprise
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